Gingerbread Cabin

I kind of want to live in this little cabin... is that weird? Maybe a little bit, but I don't care.

This is actually the second gingerbread house I've made, if you don't count the one I assembled out of graham crackers when I was a little kid. This is a big kid gingerbread house. 

If you've been following me for a while now, you'll know that my boyfriend is a pretty amazing photographer who has taught me so much about DLSR photography and editing and also let me steal his incredible camera indefinitely.... So when he suggested that he film me baking something for the blog, I was so stoked! I was already planning to make a gingerbread house that weekend and we both thought that the making of a gingerbread house would be a fun little video to make and share. It's not so much an instructional how-to but rather a brief look into the process.

So, without further ado, here is the video! And yes, that is me smiling like a dork in the movie. 

Gingerbread Cabin

312 g all-purpose flour
3 g baking soda
3 g salt
3 g ground cinnamon
3 g ground ginger
2 g ground allspice

171 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 g brown sugar
115 g granulated sugar
37 g eggs
15 g molasses

Crystallized Sugar Windows

100 g sugar
25 g water

Royal Icing

800 g icing sugar
100 g egg whites

For the gingerbread, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices into a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the butter and both the sugars together and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the side and the bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs and molasses and beat until well combined. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. 

Gradually add the flour in 3 additions, mixing on low speed and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Remove the dough from the mixer, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. 

I used this template from a Gingerbread House website, but you have to sign up to download the template. It's very easy and you can access thousands of gingerbread house templates and see some really cool pictures of gingerbread houses that people have made! I modified my template to add some windows.

Using your template, cut out the walls, roof, and chimney. Very carefully transfer your pieces to a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of your walls, roof, etc. Smaller pieces will bake faster. Check the pieces often as they burn easily. You want them over baked so they will be stable, but not so over baked that they will crumble.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool completely before transferring off the baking sheet.

For the windows, place your wall pieces with windows on a silpat. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Usually, you don't want crystallization to occur because it will give that frosted look and be grainy and unpleasant. However, for this purpose (frosted windows!), I wanted that cloudy look. Heat over high heat and stir, splashing sugar crystals onto the sides of the saucepan. Cook the mixture to 160 C. Throughout the cooking, introduce those sugar crystals on the sides of the saucepan back into the rest of the mixture. You will notice if it has crystallized because it will look grainy and little crystals will actually appear on the bubbles. If you have not crystallized it, add a pinch of sugar to the mixture. 

When the sugar mixture has reached 160 C, carefully and slowly pour into the spaces for the windows. Let it cool completely and harden, then remove the wall piece from the silpat.

For the royal icing, combine the powdered sugar, egg white, lemon juice, and vanilla extract in the bowl on an electric mixer. Beat with a paddle for a few minutes. You will need two consistencies of icing - flooding and piping. Take about 2/3 of the icing out of the bowl, place it in a separate container and cover the surface with a damp paper towel. This is your flooding icing. Beat the rest of the icing until it has a thicker consistency. Put into a separate container and cover the surface with a damp paper towel. This is your piping icing.

For the brown royal icing (for the roof), I added enough molasses to the royal icing to create the colour I wanted. I offset the added liquid by adding more icing sugar until the consistency returned to piping icing. 

When ready to pipe, transfer some of the piping icing into a small bag fitted with a small circular tip and the flooding icing into a large bag with a medium circular tip. Transfer the brown piping icing to a small bag fitted with a basket weave tip similar to this one

To decorate, arrange the pieces that you are decorating on a flat surface such as a counter or large cutting board. Pipe out doors, chimney stones, roof shingles, etc while flat. Use your imagination and get creative!

To assemble, it is helpful if you have a helping hand with you. Using a rectangular cake board, pipe some piping icing onto the board and secure one wall. Hold it in place for a few minutes while the icing dries. Leave it to dry for 15 minutes before continuing with the other pieces.

For the second wall, pipe some piping icing onto where the wall will sit on the board and also on the first wall where the two will touch. Hold for several minutes. Pipe additional icing on the inside corners to secure it. Repeat with all the walls. Let all the walls dry for half an hour or more to make sure they are dry and hardened.

For the roof pieces, pipe some piping icing onto the places where the roof piece will sit. Gently place the roof piece on and hold it for ten minutes (this is where a helping hand is nice!). After the ten minutes, carefully remove your hands and see if the roof piece will stay on it's own. If not, hold it for longer or add more icing. Repeat with the second roof piece.

Add the chimney in the same way as the wall pieces. Let everything dry for half an hour.

To finish, use flooding icing to pipe snow on the seam of the two roof pieces and around the base of the house. Using piping icing to create icicles. Add a bundle of cinnamon sticks to act as logs or whatever decoration you want to!

The gingerbread house will keep for several weeks at room temperature.